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How To Be Mindful - 5 Steps Inspired by A. A Milne

We asked Mindfulness expert Emma Mills whether she could share with us a little more about Mindfulness and how it can help us to manage stress, and also how we might help someone who is new to the practice to get started. 

Mindfulness meditation isn't just about clearing your mind or about being calm. You could say it’s more about learning to be ok whatever the weather. 

Just like A. A Milne, we learn to revel in life, regardless of the conditions. Let's say perhaps you wake up one day and the mind says 'Oh I'm tired... Oh I'm stressed or sad or anxious again' 'I'm having a good day' 'I'm having a bad day' etc. If you are quite invested in, or identify with the quality of your thoughts, it may be that you end up thrown around all day by whatever thought appears and your perceived sense of happiness will flux in line this.

If you are identified with the mind and its thoughts then perhaps you are then at the mercy of whatever thought or feeling arises (identified in the sense that you take yourself to be the thoughts, to be a separate limited entity, the thoughts to be true or the thoughts to mean something and yourself to be responsible for them). 

When you learn to watch the thoughts as they come and go without trying to push them away or fix them, perhaps you begin to see the fleeting and unsubstantial substance of them. Perhaps you learn something of the patterns behind them? Perhaps something else. In time with practice we build a kind of resilience/irreverence to them. I don't know if that's the right word ...but it seems right for now."

Q . What Are Your Top Tips for Getting Started With Mindfulness

• Take a couple of minutes to notice your breathing.
• Notice what you are doing as you are doing it and tune into your senses. When you are eating, notice the colour, texture and taste of the food.
• Don’t feel that you need to fill up all your time with doing. Even doing mindfulness. Where mindfulness is slightly different to other forms of med is that it doesn't ask you to get anywhere else or change. In fact my number one tip is don't go anywhere. It is a yes, to the current experience. Take some time to simply be with your experience for a few mins without an agenda.
• Recognise that thoughts aren't personal; like weather patterns in the external world some might seem more preferable than others at the time, but you don’t need to believe them or react to them, or take them personally.
• Practise bringing more awareness to activities which might normally go into mindlessness or rushed ness (driving, tooth brushing and washing, walking to the tube)

I hope you found this post to be useful, thanks for reading. If you'd like to hear more from me on this subject along with other poetry, meditation and thought experiments we share together as part of our work please join me on Monday 9th May where I will be hosting a fabulous ladies lunch at Rockliffe Hall.